Wednesday night’s second leg against Club Brugge was a lot more plain sailing than most of us would have anticipated or were expecting before kick-off. Yes, United *should* dispatch teams of Brugge’s standing, especially over two legs, but a 7-1 aggregate scoreline had a semblance of flattery attached to it.
That margin of victory was in no small part down to the decisive movement of an afro in Manchester now valued at £75M. If that goal had not gone into the Brugge net in the dying embers of the first leg, there could have been trepidation and bum squeaks approaching the second leg. Fellaini’s header was the safety net of a two goal cushion, vital breathing space and gave the second leg a whole different complexion. Few might not remember that goal in 5-10 years time, but it was Fellaini’s biggest moment in a United shirt and possibly the hugest goal under Van Gaal’s leadership.
Strikers are brittle commodities – getting bullied by centre-backs and failing to put the pig skin in the onion bag really does hamper confidence. I know it was ‘only’ Brugge, but hopefully this is the start of another Wayne Rooney goal cluster. All three finishes were polished with a returning confidence, not just for the beneficiary himself but the engine room behind him also re-found the confidence to play it forward, United moving between zones quicker as a result.
Again, it was ‘only’ Brugge, who were out on their feet and fighting a losing battle, but a vibrancy returned, players moving off the ball, midfielders zipping it around one and touch- the introduction of Schweinsteiger and the unleashing of ‘Juander‘ was causing havoc. Memphis and Rooney were combining, admit it… it was good to watch!
The game turned into a virtual training exercise, which was as ideal a situation as we could have hoped for ahead of Sunday. Wednesday’s game would not have been too taxing on the limbs, so hopefully the players can step onto the Liberty Stadium on Sunday with the same verve.
It is one thing doing it against a second rank Belgian outfit, another altogether against one of the Premier League’s in-form teams on their own patch. Rooney’s hat-trick will theoretically do his confidence the immeasurable world of good, but it’s only a start, he has been a passenger in recent away trips- the games where he has gone goalless away from home comforts have racked up well into double figures now, it’s time to put that right.
It’s time to kick on, Saturday’s blank against Newcastle was unbelievably frustrating- 20 shots, 70% possession, any other day and it’s a comfortable home win no questions asked. Swansea away as a follow up is as complex as they get if form is anything to go by.
‘Lightning quick’ does not do their winger Jefferson Montero justice, this will be Matteo Darmian’s stiffest test in a United shirt to date. Bafetimbi Gomis has found form in front of goal, and Gylfi Sigurdsson and Voldemort have the creativity to unlock defences.
That’s very Moyes like isn’t it? Focusing on the opposition. Fresh off a 4-0 win, the confidence should be flowing, still no outfield opposition player has got past Sergio Romero, we are building a consistent team, there are reasons to be positive.
We got a ‘nice’ Champions League draw to boot too, but it’s time to get back on track domestically.
Come on reds!